FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana Federation of Public Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) secretary-general, Tobokani Rari urges the government to immediately come up with a strong economic recovery plan.
This follows President Mokgweetsi Masisi addressing the nation on Friday saying that the government intends to end the SoE come September 30.
The economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many industries in the country. Some of the companies have long expressed a desire to shed some jobs in a bid to stay afloat and counter the effects of COVID-19. The affected companies were, however, prevented from retrenching because of SoE regulations.
With the end of SoE, it is anticipated that many companies will shed jobs, a development that could worsen the country’s already soaring unemployment rate which experts say is at around 24%.
“If the government does not act (by implementing measures to prevent job losses) a lot of companies will eject workers into the street immediately after SoE. The country cannot afford to experience massive job losses. That would be very catastrophic because the unemployment rate in the country is already high,” Rari said.
“The government should be specific in terms of how industries that were affected by COVID-19 and lockdowns will be assisted to get up on their own feet. They should be assisted financially or with resources until they can stand on their own.”
Rari warned, if the government does not do anything to counter massive job losses, the crime rate in the country will go up. He pointed out that factors like the high crime rate directly correlate with unemployment.
“Some countries such as South Africa have managed to keep their economies afloat and prevented massive job losses (as a result of the pandemic) by coming up with robust economic recovery plans (to support adversely affected industries).”
Trade unions and businesses have constantly called on the government to lift the SoE which was extended twice since it was first implemented in March last year.
They maintained that the government was postponing the country’s problems by saying that the SoE is a tool designed to ensure that companies do not retrench amongst others.
The union also raised concerns that some companies have even told some of their employees to stay at home without pay or paying them half their salaries because the SoE has disrupted their businesses. This they said put workers in a very precarious position, as they cannot counter such measures because of SoE regulations.
In his address, Masisi did not explicitly state measures that will be implemented to counter unemployment but in June when addressing the nation, he had said that the government was in the process of initiating measures to cushion Batswana from the impact brought by COVID-19.